Systems supplier ICL aims to revamp its customer service, with the help of a #30 million two-way partnership with Europe's largest IT consultancy, Cap Gemini (CGS).
Under the three-year partnership, which expands an existing relationship, ICL will provide servers, software and desktop systems to the French company. As well as revenues from these services, ICL is looking for the more long term benefits from tapping into CGS' expertise in customer care.
George O'Connor, an analyst at IDC, believes this is typical of the industry trend toward 'co-opetition', with companies that are rivals in some areas - CGS and ICL both run outsourcing divisions - working together in others, and looking for long term returns as well as short term cash.
This kind of large, rolling contract is the shape of things to come in the IT market, he believes. "All systems will be sold this way. ICL is under crippling pressure in the hardware market and has to make its hardware supply more service driven," he commented.
ICL is contracted to deliver in three key areas. First, it will rationalise the CGS data centre, upgrading its technology to its latest Trimetra servers.
Second, it has signed a three-year, single source maintenance service contract worth #3.5 million, to provide UK data services to CGS clients including British Steel and even rivals Hewlett Packard and IBM. Finally, it will supply desktops and notebooks for all CGS operations in the UK.
David Sinclair, ICL's group client director, said: "We are delighted to secure this partnership with Cap Gemini, which shares our own commitment to help customers improve their business by exploiting information technology."
Ray Murrell, divisional director at CGS, welcomed "a closer working relationship between service suppliers and IT consultants. We'll be working hard to understand the needs of all our customers."
ICL and CGS are both major players in the European IT market. ICL, which is 94 per cent owned by Japan's Fujitsu, operates in 70 countries but is primarily successful in the UK and mainland Europe, providing services, hardware, software and Internet products. CGS' core business is in IT consultancy. It employs over 27,000 people in Europe.
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